06 May 2015
Russia’s deals with Indonesia and Vietnam about railway construction reveal Moscow’s potential to meet the rising demand for land transportation in Southeast Asia. However, some technological factors put Russia in a less competitive position, especially at a time when Southeast Asia is going for high-speed trains.
Thanks to continued economic growth, most Southeast Asian states have to meet the increasing demand for land transportation, including railroad. Due to the door-to-door convenience, highway systems absorb most additional traffic generated by the economy. However, most ASEAN states’ railroad systems are struggling for modernisation and bear a relatively small portion of the load for land transportation. Electrification, central traffic control or other modern facilities for efficient railroad transportation are not popularly applied in Southeast Asian rail networks.
Nevertheless frequent traffic jams due to over-loaded highway systems and relatively low fuel efficiency of automobiles demonstrate the importance of railroad systems. With almost none or insignificant railroad industry extant in most ASEAN states, external sources of trains and railroad technology are crucial. So far, the major suppliers are China and Japan, while European countries, such as France and Germany, play a considerable role as well.
… Wu Shang-su is a Research Fellow in the Military Studies Programme of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
IDSS / Online
Last updated on 18/11/2015